I remember it well, even though it was nearly 10 years ago. The look of complete shock on my brother-in-law’s face. His disbelieving expression as he exclaimed my name. His immediate judgment and censure. What had I done to illicit this response?
Meh. Nothing much.
I had merely told him I loved mowing the grass.
See, our front yard is 5 acres, and even on a rider, it takes about 2 hours to mow. So each week, I would set Pandora to my Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, or Fleetwood Mac channel (or better yet, shuffle those babies) and hop on the mower, gleefully–blissfully–riding a circle/square around the yard for the better part of the morning. He told me I was weird, that no one likes to mow the lawn. I said, “Maybe, but it’s 2 hours every week when no one can ask anything of me. I don’t have to hear my name or a question or a need for that whole time. I can just be.”
He acted like I’d begun the Spanish Inquisition.
People who are not mothers tend to do that. They don’t understand that from the moment we are aware of the first tiny being growing inside us, our lives are not our own. And they can’t grasp that even we need a little time when our lives are just Our Lives and we’re not beholden to other people.
Not that we don’t love this mom life, but we get tired, too.
When you add to that some of the cons of being a SAHM, such as not having 8 hours a day where you get to go somewhere besides your house, being on call 24/7, and feeling like you have to take care of Everything at home because you’re the one not bringing in an income, it can get overwhelming. Time for yourself, to just be, can become an impossible dream.
Flash forward 3 years, when I was having particular trouble with my thyroid. I was exhausted all the time and my many hats were starting to weigh a ton. My doctor looked me in the eye and, I swear, she mentally shook me by the shoulders. “You have to make time for yourself,” she said. “You’re too stressed out and you’re not getting any time to deflate.” Oh, Dr. E. That is some truly heady advice.
Now how, as a homeschooling, blogging mama who would move Heaven and Earth to keep her family happy, am I supposed to follow it?
Grabbing time for yourself when it’s just out of reach
I’m telling you, a couple of hours alone in my house is a rare and euphoric commodity. It does not happen. Part of that is because as a family we truly do like each other and want to be together. Part of it is that most of us are homebodies, and would rather be on our beautiful farm than anywhere. Part of it is that there is so much work to do each season that it’s hard for 4/5 of us to just up and go somewhere for any length of time. So.
So I mow the freaking grass.
Here’s the thing. We are mothers. We are wives. We are caretakers. Whether that truly is a biological gender thing or not, most of us fall into those roles without even realizing we’re doing it. But we are also people. And we need the chance to reboot, to deflate as my doctor called it, to not be those other things so we can remember what it is like to just be ourselves.
Here’s how I carve out me time when there isn’t any to be had. It’s not perfect, and it’s not enough, but it’s better than nothing. Maybe it will inspire you to find ways to get some of your own.
Wake up early
I get up at 5:30 every morning. Once I know my beautiful husband has what he needs to get ready for work, I rush to my computer so I can start talking to you. Writing. You get me. He leaves at 6:30. The next hour is mine to do as I please. Usually I work, but I also take 10 minutes with my first cup of coffee and my current book. I just found a beautiful book, Lady’s Maid by Margaret Forster, which is about Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s lady’s maid and her life with the famous poet. It is rocking my socks off. I love biographies that are told as stories. So not the dry nonfiction fare. Plus, it made me get out my collection of Barrett Browning’s poetry and rediscover the joy of that stuff. Yeah yeah. 10 minutes. Every morning. When I am not working or caring for someone else. It’s not much, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it.
Take Short Walks
Not everyone lives on 60 acres, I get that. But after school every day, I take the Greatest German Shepherd in the world for a short walk through part of our woods. The Littles do not accompany us. It gives me 20 minutes to think about how school went that day, how I can tweak things for the next day, and what we might do next week. But sometimes, I pull out my phone, open my Kindle app, and read while I walk. Dangerous? Nah, I’ve been doing it for years. At least I’m not walking through downtown Louisville anymore, but I swear when I worked in a law office, I read any time I had to walk somewhere for the job. All I can say is, thank goodness for Kindle’s text-to-speech option so I can finally read while I’m driving.
Attend a workout class
My Zumba instructor had to give it up for personal reasons, but when I was doing Zumba 3 times a week, it was an amazing stress reliever and, for some reason, completely understandable to my family that I would be gone 3 hours a week in the evening. Not always a thing, so I’m constantly looking out for a new class to start up. Sometimes just being able to justify leaving the house gives us a freedom we didn’t really realize we have.
Find a hobby
I realize it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but my beautiful husband is an avid hunter. And many years ago he convinced me to join him a few times on a deer hunt. And I fell in love with sitting in the woods for hours waiting for that elusive animal to show. And since we use the meat to get us through the year, I eventually found I was okay with watching him take one down. Then one day I realized I wanted to try it. And then I did. Now I hunt more than Martin does, during gun season at least. For most of November and December, you can find me shivering in a tree for 3-4 hours both morning and evening, doing my best to fill my tag and feed my family. It gives me something to look forward to in winter. No one asks you to do something for them when you’re sitting in the woods with a gun. It’s company policy.
Make a girl date
I have a standing weekly date with my bestie, Abby from Sage House Market. In warm weather, we walk. In cold weather we go somewhere for a soda or coffee or some other nonsense, and we spend several hours tearing apart and reconstructing the world. I would probably have a nervous breakdown without it.
I mean, that’s pretty much it. It might give me an average total of 5 hours a week that is just for me. But when you put it that way, 5 hours doesn’t seem so small, does it? I haven’t gone maniacal yet, so that’s something.
What do you do to get some me time? I would love to find more ways to steal it for myself.
Looking for more ways to take care of yourself?
For more awesome ways to rock your self-care time, make sure to check out what my friends have to share on this helpful topic for Homeschool Monthly Blog Hops! We will be gathering our ideas and sharing our tips to help you rock your homeschool with select themes every month.
How to Make Time for You When You “Don’t Have Time” by Jen at Practical, By D
Self-Care For Homeschool Moms – 17 Ways to Thrive! By Michelle at Homeschool Your Boys
Making Time for Self-Care as a Homeschooler by Crystal at Sharing Life’s Moments
Ack! I’ve Got an Extrovert! An Introvert Homeschooling Mom’s Survival Guide by Jackie at You Really Can Homeschool
Supermom, It’s Okay to Say No: Self-Care for the Chronically Over-Scheduled by Ginny at Not So Formulaic
Awesome Adulting: Be the Inspiration You Want For Your Children by Dachelle at Hide The Chocolate
How To Make Time for Self-Care as a Homeschooler by Amy at Rock Your Homeschool